Florida Panthers

Famed announcer Jiggs McDonald back behind mike at Florida Panthers game

FILE: (L-R) Jiggs McDonald and Ed Westfall watch a banner raising in honor of Ed Westfall prior to the game between the New York Islanders and the Boston Bruins at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Nov. 19, 2011, in Uniondale, New York.
FILE: (L-R) Jiggs McDonald and Ed Westfall watch a banner raising in honor of Ed Westfall prior to the game between the New York Islanders and the Boston Bruins at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Nov. 19, 2011, in Uniondale, New York. Getty Images

The radio broadcast room at BB&T Center was especially busy Saturday night — and brimming with Hall of Famers.

With radio voice Randy Moller sick and missing a second game in a row, the Panthers brought in Jiggs McDonald to call Saturday’s game against the visiting Sabres.

With McDonald in the building, that meant long conversations with old friends Denis Potvin and Bill Torrey. These three have been close since their days with the Islanders in the early ’80s.

Torrey, nicknamed “the architect,’’ put the team together. Potvin was the captain who raised the Stanley Cup four consecutive years (1980-83). And McDonald spun the tale, his legendary calls earning him a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame alongside Potvin and Torrey.

“This is a real treat. This is great fun, it really is,’’ McDonald said.

“There aren’t any better people in the world than hockey people. What a solid group.’’

McDonald, Florida’s radio play-by-play man from 1999-2004, has come out of the bullpen to fill in on Panthers and Islanders broadcasts since he “retired’’ in 2004.

McDonald works about a dozen Islanders telecasts on MSG Network each season.

The part-time work keeps McDonald — who in six decades is believed to have called more NHL games than anyone else — close to the game he loves.

When the Panthers call, he heads over from his home in Fort Myers. Saturday’s game was his first for Florida since filling in for Moller in 2010.

“I thought I could cut the cord,’’ McDonald said of retiring after Florida’s 2003-04 season. “But I got a call from MSG if I could help them get the [2005] season started because the Mets were in the playoffs. Then the Panthers called to fill in for Dave Strader. Any cord that was cut, it was healed again.’’

Steve Goldstein, now Florida’s television voice, was McDonald’s pregame, postgame and intermission host before taking over when McDonald retired.

Like Potvin and Torrey, Goldstein made sure to saddle up to McDonald, who recently turned 76, before both went on the air.

“I grew up listening to him call Islanders games so when he was here, it was like ‘wow, that’s Jiggs McDonald,’’’ said Goldstein, who did radio play-by-play announcing with Moller for two seasons before moving over to the television side.

“He’s such a great guy off the air. He’s sharp, he’s funny, he’s witty and I learned a lot from him. I really enjoyed learning from him, and he would bring me on the air, which was really great of him. It’s great to see him still plugging away.’’

For McDonald, Saturday’s gig was a rare opportunity to return to Sunrise and call a Panthers game before heading on the road with the Islanders.

This season, McDonald said, might be his last.

With the Islanders leaving the Nassau Coliseum for Brooklyn next year, McDonald feels it might be time for him to move on as well.

“In the back of my head, I’m saying this has to be it,’’ said McDonald, who was the original voice of the Los Angeles Kings in 1967 as well as the Atlanta Flames in 1972.

He joined the Islanders after they won their first Cup in 1980.

“Ten years after retirement, I shouldn’t still be wandering around charter planes and looking for hotel rooms in the middle of the night. Do I need to do this anymore? Maybe this should be it. When they move to Brooklyn, that should be my bye-bye. But most of the games I do are road games, so who knows?’’

LOCKED IN

Roberto Luongo’s shutout run against the Sabres was quite impressive, especially considering what happened in the start before his streak began.

On March 3, 2012, Luongo was pulled just 5:10 into a game against the Sabres after they scored three goals off seven shots.

The Sabres didn’t get one past Luongo for a long time after that until Saturday night.

Luongo shut out the Sabres in three consecutive starts and didn’t give up a goal until Drew Stafford scored with 8:58 left in the second period. That’s a shutout run of 211 minutes 2 seconds as Luongo turned back 91 consecutive shots on goal.

The previous Buffalo player to score against Luongo before Stafford: Florida teammate Brad Boyes.

INJURY UPDATES

Coach Gerard Gallant said Dave Bolland is ready to return from a groin injury that has kept him out since Oct.17 and should play Monday against the Blues.

Scottie Upshall (ankle) and Aleksander Barkov (hand) didn’t travel to St. Louis but might join the team later in the week.

Monday: Panthers at Blues

When/where: 8 p.m.; Scottrade Center, St.Louis.

TV/radio: FSFL; WQAM 560.

Series: St. Louis leads 17-7-3.

Noteworthy: The Panthers will see longtime nemesis Martin Broduer as the three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Devils makes his third start since signing with St.Louis last week. Brodeur is 40-16-2 against Florida with six shutouts.

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